Wellington - Springbok coach Paul Treu has said he is hoping his charges benefit from a more focused training week, in order to break their hoodoo and beat Sevens maestros Fiji this weekend at the Wellington Sevens.
The HSBC World Series moves to New Zealand on Friday, and the Blitzbokke find themselves in a tricky pool on day one of the competition, grouped with the South Sea magicians, unpredictable France, and Canada.
After losing to Fiji in the last seconds in the opening round in Dubai, Treu is hoping his young squad has taken the boost in confidence, and will be able to get over their own obstacles and take a victory against the Fijian side.
First of all, of course they will need to get past Canada who are not a core team on the Sevens circuit, and therefore a very unknown quantity.
France, on their day, can beat anyone, but have little consistency in the shortened version of the game, and usually fail to impress.
This leaves the Blitzbokke to face last year’s champions Fiji, in a game to determine the pool winner.
It is an area that Treu and co. have been working on for some months now, and the Boks were 19-7 up against the Fijians in Dubai, before losing 21-19 in their quarterfinal.
Absence of Afrika
Treu is of course without playmaker Cecil Afrika, and it will be interesting to see how the team fares without his blend of magical attack.
Boom Prinsloo is also struggling with a quad strain, but the team is hopeful he will be ready when the tournament begins.
“It’s looking good, the team has acclimatised well, and we have trained very well this week. As for the games, we never know how a team like Canada will play, and we saw in Dubai when Portugal beat England in the opening game that you can never take a team lightly,” Treu said.
“It will be difficult taking on Fiji without a guy like Cecil, but I believe we still have the firepower to take them on. Hopefully the self-confidence the guys picked up in Dubai will do well, and if we have the right attitude and commitment on the field, and the focus is right, then we should be ready to take the opportunities we are presented.”
Day two will be a different monster altogether, but for now Treu is just focusing on day one of the tournament, with a victory over Fiji the target he has set his squad.
The Springbok Sevens squad to Wellington and Las Vegas:
Kyle Brown (capt), Boom Prinsloo, Frankie Horne, Chris Dry, Lubabalo Mtembu, Paul Delport, Branco du Preez, Renfred Dazel, Pieter Engelbrecht, Bernado Botha, Steven Hunt, Paul Jordaan.
Pool A: England, Wales, USA, Cook Islands
Pool B: New Zealand, Argentina, Scotland, Papua New Guinea
Pool C: Samoa, Australia, Kenya, Tonga
Pool D: South Africa, Fiji, France, Canada
South Africa’s games
3.06am v Canada
6.02am v France
10.12am v Fiji